A pro-family advocate is calling the University of Chicago's decision to allow coed dorm rooms troubling. The university announced the decision to parents in a letter that was sent in mid-December. The change in boarding rules will allow students of the opposite sex to reside in the same room, and the school says the decision was born from a student-led initiative. Students who wish to have a coed roommate will not need parental consent.
Laurie Higgins, the director of the division of school advocacy with the Illinois Family Institute, calls the decision troubling, but not surprising. "I think it reflects a number of troubling assumptions: One is that sex differences are irrelevant, that modesty is irrelevant -- and modesty is not equivalent to prudery -- that parental values and beliefs are irrelevant," she notes.
The living arrangements will not be available to freshman, and the University of Chicago states that it is not aiming for "romantic couples," but couples will not be banned from rooming together. Higgins believes the living arrangements could lead to an increase in sexual assault and that the university is sending a message that it does not care about promiscuity.
"In addition, it's not going to stop here," she contends. "[At] some colleges they actually have coed bathrooms, which of course further emphasizes the idea that sex differences are irrelevant and modesty is irrelevant to administrations."
Higgins notes that one college student argued in favor of the rule change, citing that 18-year-olds are allowed to smoke cigarettes and own guns so they should be allowed to live together. In response to that argument, Higgins points out that most students are not allowed to smoke or have guns in dorm rooms.